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Davidson County Commissioners vote to approve asbestos survey in 38 buildings

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- During Tuesday night's meeting, Davidson County Commissioners voted unanimously to approve an asbestos survey in 38 buildings.

The county will pay Trinity Environmental $42,000 to provide a comprehensive asbestos survey that will describe the material type for each room, and will identify asbestos by type, quantity and current physical condition. The company will also provide recommendations to maintain the asbestos that is in good condition.

This vote comes two months after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued three citations against the Davidson County Government in August for asbestos in the courthouse, though county officials say there are no health risks associated with it.

The three citations resulted in a fine of $6,500 for the Davidson County Government.

The citations claim that:

  1. The Davidson County Government failed to inform building tenants/employees of the Davidson County Courthouse regarding the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos containing material or presumed asbestos contain material. The County also within the same citation was noted to not have informed the building occupants of who would be performing work within adjacent areas of the presence, location, and quantity of asbestos.
  2. Davidson County did not ensure that a competent person conducted an exposure assessment immediately before or at the initiation of the operation to ascertain expected exposures during that operation or workplace. The County performed Class III asbestos work and an exposure assessment was never performed.
  3. Davidson County performed class III asbestos work without using engineering and work practice controls that minimize the exposure to employees performing the asbestos work and to bystander employees. The county failed to use wet methods, local exhaust ventilation, impermeable dropcloths, mini-enclosures, glove bag systems and or plastic barriers.

Davidson County Clerk of Superior Court Brian Shipwash released the following statement in regard to the citations:

“I am extremely disturbed and am concerned about the potential asbestos exposure to Citizens, my employees, and the county workers who have performed countless work projects in this old building over the course of the last 19 years. I was tipped off by a whistle blower on June 22, 2017 and immediately acted, and reported this to OSHA. The more I have researched and learned about the proper handling and treatment of asbestos containing material the more I am appalled at the way the county has failed to protect everyone who enters this building.”

The county was warned in 2015 about asbestos and the changing laws, Shipwash said.

“These three citations and the subsequent testing which have verified asbestos, black mold and lead validate my concerns about this building and the health, welfare and safety of those who work and enter it,” Shipwash continued in the statement.

The OSHA report was included in the release and can be viewed here.